Title: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Genre: Drama, Horror
Director/Writer: Ana Lily Amirpour
Cinematography: Lyle Vincent
Reza Sixo Safai
A black-and-white film about a female vampire dressed in chador, pops out in an unnamed Iranian ghost-town at night, the image itself is spontaneously spooky in one’s mind-eye. This instantly visually striking indie-work marks the feature debut of female filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour, whose Iranian heritage and the film’s Persian-speaking setting will temptingly make viewers believe it is an Iranian production, but the truth is, it is an out-and-out US indie shot in California, a tale of nihilistic dystopia, but ends up in the unwelcome ennui.
Apart from the vampiric girl (Vand), the story loosely surrounds a young man Arash (Morandi), his junkie father Hossein (Manesh), a prostitute Atti (Marnò), a drug dealer Saeed (Rains). Under the stylish chiaroscuro palette, the film is efficient to pique audience’s interest in its artistic rendition of the milieu, the town is literally called “bad city”, once our first victim falls prey to the girl, the thrill begins to dampen as the narrative meanders in its self-indulgent languor.
Expertly wrapping the film with all the necessary (but equally repetitive) indie-trappings: laconic dialogue, criss-cross plot lines (human-vampire romance, father-son falling-out, vampire-hooker bond, etc.), uncanny settings (there is a body disposal dump in the background in the beginning where is quite easy to overlook), whimsical soundtracks (Persian folks and ghoulish Gothic rock are nicely juxtaposed here) and sound effects to spark the sluggish narrative from time to time, as an expedient measurement, but in the end, all the effort runs on empty for the hollow aftermath, as though the film itself resembles the vampire-vigilante, who lingers on a benumbing hangover as a result of imbibing the blood from drug addicts (throughout the movie, 2 out of 3 of her victims are junkies, the other one is a homeless man, does the blood-thirsty species ever mind the quality of their food?).
The cast looks fabulous in the monochromatic silhouettes (maybe not for Manesh, in this case, who is such an eye-sore to witness), but their characterisation is either frustratingly stereotyped or exasperatingly nebulous. Anyway, the film is a big breakthrough for Amirpour, whose next project THE BAD BATCH is already in post-production, which lines up big Hollywood names like Jim Carrey, Keanu Reeves in it, I am very curious to see if there will be a big leap forward, after all, female filmmakers deserve some leeway and more patience from viewers, not just because they are unfairly outnumbered in this line of work, their school of thoughts can give a second life to the stagnant media, there is a possibility herein.